If you are thinking about offering a dog a caring home, the first place to start looking in on the Internet. Animal rescue centres and other re-homing organisations can easily be found online, and you can refine your search to bring up places that are local to where you live. This is important because if you can limit the distance you have to travel to visit the centre the easier the process will be for you and when you do adopt a dog – you won't have to travel too far to bring them home!
Most dog rescue centres have specific set times people can visit them which is usually during the week and often at weekends too. Some of the smaller shelters might ask you to make an appointment after you've initially contacted them whether by phone or email – so this is something worth bearing in mind.
You may already know about the bigger organisations that rescue all sorts of animals, including dogs, but there are literally hundreds of smaller ones dotted all over the country. They too are full to capacity with dogs that need to find new and loving homes. These smaller organisations are run on very limited budgets but still manage to do a wonderful job taking care of animals that need their help. Whether you are thinking of adopting a dog from a large organisation or a smaller concern, they will always offer you ongoing help and advice on the dog you took home with you.
On top of all the animal rescue centres and smaller shelters found in the UK, there are hundreds of breed rescue centres too. Each one of these rescue centres focus on one particular breed, so if you are looking to adopt a Cocker Spaniel, you will find specialist rescue centres that deal with just this breed. Very often, many of these rescue centres don't have enough space or enough kennels to keep all their rescued dogs with them at their centres. This means often they foster out the dogs to people who are willing to look after them until they find a permanent loving home.
It's far better to contact a local rescue centre when looking to adopt a dog because it cuts down on travelling both to visit the centre, and then to bring your chosen dog home. The shorter the travelling time the better it will be for them because they will find it less stressful than having to cope a longer car journey with strangers in a car they are not familiar with.
By far the best strategy is to visit the rescue centre's website, the larger organisations have easy to navigate sites where you'll be able to see what dogs are looking for new homes. The smaller concerns may have websites but they are not so well set up which means it might be better to contact them by phone initially and then make an appointment to visit the centre. Although on our Pets4Homes website we offer rescue centres an easy way to advertise their rescue centres and all the dogs they have available which need new homes. This way they promote their dogs to the millions of monthly visitors we receive to site and hopefully encourage some potential new owners to consider adopting instead of buying a dog from a breeder.
After discussing the sort of dog you are hoping to adopt with the people at the centres, the next step is to plan a trip there. If you have children, it may not be such a good idea to take them with you until you have decided which dog to adopt. It can be a little stressful for everyone concerned when visiting a rescue centre because there are so many dogs all of which need to find loving and caring homes. Taking the kids along might make it more stressful and difficult to make that final decision on which dog to take home with you – so it may be better to avoid taking the kids with you until you have made your decision.
Rescue centres have a huge responsibility when it comes to finding the right home for the right dog with the right people. Their one goal is to find a home where the dog will be able to happily live out the rest of their lives in comfort and safety. This means the rescue centre will want to “vet” you and make a home inspection which is to ensure everything is okay. You will have been asked to fill out a questionnaire when you first contact the centre which gives them all the information they need about you and your home environment. This helps them when it comes to matching the right sort of dog to you.
Home visits will check out garden fencing to make sure it's secure and if it is not, the inspector will offer you advice on what you need to do to make it safe. They will offer advice on other things around the home too, all of which is invaluable for everyone, especially if you have never owned a dog before.
The majority of rescue centres will ask for a donation that goes towards the running costs of the centre and to cover the costs involved in neutering/spaying a dog, getting dogs micro-chipped, vetted and vaccinated. Smaller rescue centres usually ask for a donation too because they rely 100% on money they receive from people in order to carry on their good work. The donations/fees are usually around the £80 - £100 mark at most dog rescue centres.
However, if you are adopting a dog from a breed rescue centre, you may be asked to pay a little bit more but again, the money will be put towards the cost of running the centre, fostering dogs out to people and all the costs mentioned above of the things dogs need to have done to them before they can be put up for adoption.
It is really important to adopt a dog from a rescue centre that boasts a good reputation and which has a good re-homing policy in place. They should always offer you ongoing help and advice when you need it. Should you find you need any sort of help with an adopted dog, the centre should be there happy to offer assistance to make sure the adopted dog settles in and enjoys their new life you as much as you enjoy having them in your home.